Saturday, January 15, 2011

ROBOTS - Animation Reel

Well, with the good ones comes the bad and this folks is my BAD! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present - ROBOTS.

Truth be told, it was on my 1st day at BlueSky I saw a William Joyce drawing framed in the halls. Later I found out that William Joyce's Robots would be the 2nd film. I was so excited - I read so many Joyce childrens books to my daughter that I couldn't believe I was going to bring his characters to life! During all of Ice Age I justed wanted to get through it so I could start on Robots.

When Ice Age was a success and we started pre-vis on Robots, everything was going great. The designs were creative, like nothing that had been done before. I managed to read the 1st draft of the script, it was amazing. Had such a old time Hollywood feel to it (the closest thing I can compare it to is The Coen Brother's The Hudsucker Proxy)

So, what happened? I wish I knew.

Truth be told, those 2+ years animating was the absolute hardest and heartbreaking of any project i've ever worked on. Although, I feel every artist needs a Robots once in their career.
You need the lows to make those highs that much sweeter.
LUGNUT (workout?) - This was done before the start of the film. We would grab audio lines from actors and animate to them. I always though John C. Reilly wouldve been a perfect Lugnut. This was taken from Boogie Nights for the sole purpose 0f testing out his jaw rig.
BIGWELD (buttah!) - Yep, this was Bigweld at one time. Actually he was the big round jolly guy you see, but behind closed doors - his ball would open up and this lil' guy would pop out (ala The Wizard of Oz). This line is Steve Martin in Bowfinger, the purpose of this test was to play with follow-thru on the wires of the robot characters.
BABY RODNEY - when I got this shot assigned I immediately thought 'Not again!' On Ice Age I did most of the human baby shots. From this shot on, it was my goal not to just repeat myself again. I had to work harder to become a better animator.
DAD DISHWASHER - Reminded me of going to visit my dad at his job, he is a welder. I still remember him showing me his beat up welding mask with a Chicago Bears sticker on it. Wanted to capture that memory in this shot.
BIGWELD CHAIR RIDE - While animating this, I wanted to find movements that would be uniquely Bigweld. Sort a like when someone does the moon walk yo instantly think of Michael Jackson. The last pose of this shot I wanted it to be iconic, something BW would always do.
MOM HUG RODNEY - Ouch! This one hurts. Such a emotional scene and I really didn't do it justice. I wish I could go back in time a re-animate this.
RATCHET (big city kid!) - Heres is just one shot of many that never made it into the film.
Animated films are usually around 72 minutes long. I think we animated in total 120 minutes for Robots, alot of which was finished rendered shots that ended up on the cutting room floor.
My hope is that they would end up on the dvd one day - no such luck!
RODNEY MAGNET HAIR - For this shot modeling gave me 10 different hair shapes, it was up to me to think of creative ways to go from one pose to the other. This was a hard shot because alot of the notes from the director was about in what order should each hair shape appear. Alot of reblocking! Some hair shapes I didnt end up using was Elvis and Lincoln.
RODNEY (outmoding millions of bots) - Although Rodney takes center stage here, I was more interested in getting Ratchet just right. Having the right pose that shows off his power.
FENDER (the Rodster) - Concentrated on clean poses since there is alot going on in this shot. Wanted to make sure that everything read clearly on Fender so when Rodney working on his head, that the audience can still follow along w the acting.
Dr.V NEEDLE - Poor Dr.V, never had your moment to shine! In a old cut of the film, Gasket calls in the good doctor to reprogram Bigweld's brain to do her bidding. I really wanted to get that shaky old man with a needle feel.
RATCHET / GASKET - I didnt get to animate to many Gasket shots, but she was alot of fun to animate. So many moving parts, felt like a really hard puzzle you had to solve when animating her.
BIGWELD TRAPPED - Fun to play with BW's hose like arms to get clean S-shapes in them.
PICKUP TREADMILL - This was a really quick fun shot to do. To just really sell the weight of a object through the timing and body poses. I think I animated this shot in a day.
FENDER MINI-SKIRT - I really wanted to show the anim supes that I could do full body animation since I mostly got close up face animation on Ice Age. Looking at this shot now, I moved that body WAY too much.
RODNEY STUCK - Again, great lil' fun shot to sell being stuck to a magnet through poses and timing. Sometimes the small throw away shots are the funnest. No stress!
BIGWELD DOMINOES - Really wanted to get fast moving hands on Bigweld to show he has setup dominoes for years now. Why Dominoes? I have no idea!
BW SWEETKEESTER - A robot talking about another one's butt?! Uh yeah, lets move on! That's the directors voice for Rodney.
FENDER (in a huff!) - Fun to really play with Fender's body pose to show that he is royalty. Also with Tim the Guard in the back I just went straight ahead and animated it concentrating more on the timing and less on the poses.
RATCHET (lets do it!) - This is one of those shots that I did twice. After I got the final, the next day there would be new audio with new direction. Here's both.
WINDUP CAR - this was the moment when I lost hope. Here the lightpost walks off after a long days work, in the film version Aunt Fan blows a fart that makes him pass out dead. I couldn't do it. I asked for someone else to re-animate the lightpost.
SCREWDRIVER PLEASE - A drunk robot ordering at a bar? What is this film about again!
DAD SICK - I learned alot on this shot - managing a long shot w 3 characters, knowing who to move at the right time, directing the audience's eyes to the right places on the screen.
FENDER (lil' teapot) - Last shot. I'm too tired to make any more comments.

Mork from Ork(played Fender in ROBOTS) and me.
Halle Berry (played Cappy in ROBOTS) and some lucky schmuck!


  1. I really love the "Dad sick" shot :)

  2. I actually quite enjoyed this film! I remember the magnet hair shot being one of my favourite. Thanks again for sharing, Aaron.

  3. Awesome! I'm incredibly jealous that you were able to meet Halle Berry! I loved her portrayal of Dorothy Dandridge! XD

  4. WOW! Thank you so much for sharing this. It is so motivational.